ID Music 20211029 - Autumnal Melancholy I
North America's Gnarliest Mix of Soft Autumn Hum
Inter-Dimensional Music is heard weekly on the airwaves of Marfa Public Radio, LOOKOUT FM Los Angeles, and WQRT Indianapolis
The Autumnal Melancholy series of programs goes back to the early days of Inter-Dimensional Music, when we weren't online and you could only catch our transmission on the airwaves of Marfa Public Radio in Far West Texas.
When the formerly 100% ambient and New Age show became a solitary endeavor, I used the onset of autumn as an excuse to harsh the mellow. Specifically, I turned to Striborg, a raw one-man depressive black metal project from New Zealand. Depressive black metal is one of the endless subgenres of metal, where the feral rage is turned down just a bit in favor of feral reflection. E.g. album titles such as Autumnal Melancholy and songs like "A Lonely Walk In A Desolate Cold Pine Forest." Sometimes the most cursed realm of the winter demons is the realm we find inside ourselves.
This year's Autumnal Melancholy series takes inspiration in part from Grouper’s recent album Shade. Liz Harris' music is well-known and celebrated widely in 2021, which is impressive IMO considering that her work is often as heavy and morose as that of New Zealand's most depressed kvlt hermit. There's something of Harris' fragile melancholia to Striborg's music, and there's always been an air of metal's celebration of downwardly spiraling yin energies to Harris' projects.
When I lived in Marfa, Harris stopped off in the tiny Far West Texas town several times, including a 2010 performance next to the train tracks behind the Crowley Theater that auspiciously coincided with my first birthday as a Presidio County resident. This next series of shows includes a few lesser known (or at least not best-selling) selections from her catalog, along with work from her sometimes collaborator Ilyas Ahmed, including an AUD tape from a 2011 (possibly?) performance at Aquarius Records in Berkeley.
Of the metal that we play on the show and use as part of the IRL Basking in Gravity "mindfulness installations," one of the bands that gets the most attention from non-metal heads is Asunder. They ceased operations in 2008, and members went on to form Bell Witch, a funeral/funereal doom project famous for songs like the 80-minute double-album song "Mirror Reaper." Next to Sunn O))) it's the closest thing to ambient metal that I know. It also sounds like My Bloody Valentine if you play it at 45rpm.
Asunder is only slightly less funereal, and to my ears even more beautiful. The name of the song "Twilight Amaranthine" sticks in my head like the repeated line "lapis lazuli dome of sky" from David Foster Wallace's cruise ship travelogue, with none of the anxious energy or critical disengagement. It's the sound of orange sunshine fading to purple moonlight, and a fitting soundtrack to the first early sunset after Daylight Saving Time comes to an end.
For this program we'll hear Asunder's final work, an excerpt from a 94m collaborative performance with the elusive Japanese metal collective Corrupted. Their collaborators are one of the most fascinating bands in underground metal, with a general vibe that is closer to Boredoms than anything else. Corrupted hail from Japan, but sing in Spanish. There are few interviews or photos other than live documentation, and their sprawling discography ranges from ripping metallic crust, delicate acoustic murk, and blackened, monochromatic ambient piano compositions. If you want more, a full account of their 90m descent is available at archive.org. Beyond that, both artists’ catalogs are mostly out of print, and AFAIK not found on streaming platforms.
Our program begins and ends with acoustic metal-adjacent ambience from Seedspore, a project from one of the members of righteous black metal iconoclasts Bull of Apis Bull of Bronze. I wrote about BoA BoB and their various offshoots in the context of yoga practice awhile ago for Aquarium Drunkard.
We also hear an array of downcast folk music ranging from skeletal live improvisations to hypnagogic styles informed by deep spiritual anguish and opioid-driven aesthetics. Plus a song about mushrooms by our friend from online, The Modern Folk.
Zen anarchist and poet Gary Snyder puts this seasonal affective disorder into the context of deep time with his short poem "They Are Listening":
As the crickets' soft autumn hum is to us,
so are we to the trees.
As are they to the rocks and the hills.
Snyder talks about the poem in detail in a 2011 interview:
Somebody gave this the title 'They are listening," I didn't title it initially. So the poet who disappeared and committed suicide, I mean probably disappeared, Lou Welch and I were sitting by a campfire one night in summer up in my place in the mountains, back in the early '70s. And taking our time, chatting with each other and not saying much. And then he said to me, "Gary do you think the trees pay any attention to the human beings?" And I said gee, Lou, I'm not sure. What are you driving at? And he said "us human beings, we're just passing through." So I took that little thing which I loved and made a little poem of three stages ... of time scale.
And so thank you for joining us as we pass through together, basking under the full weight of the season, yet another reassurance of our eventual return home to the dirt.
More to come next week. Thanks for listening.
ID Music 20211029 setlist
artist - work
Seedspore - Frigid Autumnal Breeze (excerpt)
Anthony Pasquarosa / John Moloney / Jon Collin - Live at Mystery Train - part 1
Corrupted & Asunder - Live at KFJC Nov 7 2008
Ilyas Ahmed & Grouper - II
Russian Tsarlag - Zombie City
Flying Canyon - The Bull Who Knew the Ring
The Modern Folk - Oyster Mushroom
Seedspore - Frigid Autumnal Breeze (excerpt)
Dharma: Gary Snyder
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